Michael MacKay, Radio Lemberg, 05.09.2017
Russia invaded and has been attacking Ukraine for over three and a half years. All of Crimea and some of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts have been been seized by the foreign army. Over 400 km of Ukraine-Russia international border is uncontrolled by Ukraine, and across it Russia sends a limitless supply of soldiers, weapons, fuel, and matériel – feeding its 1st Army Corps (Donetsk) and 2nd Army Corps (Luhansk) that are attacking civilians and the Ukrainian Armed Forces in Donbas.
In 1994, Ukraine was the third largest nuclear power on Earth. Ukraine agreed to give up all of its nuclear weapons in return for guarantees of its security and of its territorial integrity – guarantees from the Russian Federation, the United States, and the United Kingdom. The four countries put their signatures to a document called the Budapest Memorandum. Ukraine kept its promise. Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2014 and broke the Budapest Memorandum. The US and the UK have so far failed to take effective action to uphold the Budapest Memorandum.
How can the US and UK keep their promise to Ukraine? Given that Ukraine is in battle to defend its homeland and to restore its sovereignty and territorial integrity, it would seem that the US and the UK are obligated to do everything in their power to help Ukraine in this fight. For it to be true that “their word is their bond” the US and the UK should be helping Ukraine to liberate Crimea and Donbas and to reassert border control in Donetsk, Luhansk, and the Kerch Strait. They can do that best by fighting alongside Ukraine in defence of Europe and also by providing Ukraine with weapons. The US and the UK do neither.
Three and a half years into Putin’s War against Europe in Ukraine, the least that the West can do now is to arm Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons. One weapon talked about is the Javelin anti-tank guided missile. The head of the supervisory board of the Association of Armaments and Weapons in Ukraine, Dmytro Umanets, said Javelins could be a very reliable deterrent against the likely Russian attack in Donbas. Ukrainian MP and leader of the Information Resistance online community Dmitry Tymchuk gives the reason why: “Javelins are the third generation [of anti-tank guided missile]. Its two main features: the principle of ‘shoot and forget’ and the possibility of hitting an armoured target from above (where the armour is the weakest).” The Ukrainian defence industry produces only second-generation anti-tank guided missiles, the Stugna and the Korsar.
The point about arming Ukraine with Javelins is to deter Russian soldiers from getting in their tanks and attacking.
Russian infowarriors have been making an effort against the current drive to arm Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons. The arguments they give are the same tired, old and weak ones – although they have somehow made their way into the op-ed pages of the New York Time and the New Delhi Times. Agitprop phrases like “Russian separatists” and “proxy war” and “geopolitical checkers” abound. The common theme is to discount the moral agency of Ukrainians, and their sovereign right as a people to defend their homeland.
In Canada, the government is obligated by law to consider a recently-certified petition, e-968, which calls on Canada “to add Ukraine to the Automatic Firearms Country Control List, sign the Canada-Ukraine Defence Cooperation Agreement and supply the Ukrainian military with lethal defensive equipment.” For the sake of national security, the Canadian government should say “yes” to this reasonable request.
Attacking Ukraine are Russian soldiers, led by Russian officers, armed and paid by Russia. Defending Ukraine is a quarter million strong army that has become more professional in three and a half years of unrelenting warfare. Arming Ukraine with Javelins and other lethal defensive weapons is the right thing to do and the prudent thing to do to help restore peace and security to Europe.